Iain Duncan Smith Attacks Step-Parents
I dedicate this post to loving step-parents everywhere.
In a speech on Wednesday, Iain Duncan Smith said something unbelievable. This is nothing unusual- Iain Duncan Smith has said more unbelievable things since he’s joined the DWP than I own pairs of socks.
It is what he said that has got me so upset. He was speaking about families, and he did make some good points.
When families are strong and stable, he said quite rightly, so are children.
But when things go wrong in families, he added, quite rightly again, the impact on a child’s life can be devastating.
It is what he plans to do about it that is so unbelievable. He plans to measure the proportion of children living with the same parents from birth- in order to drive home the message that social programmes should promote family stability and avert breakdown.
So, what’s wrong with what he said? There are many wonderful step parents out there who willingly support and love their stepchildren. Stepfamilies may not live together from the birth of children, but they can be just as strong and stable as any biological, nuclear, traditional family. In some cases, stepfamilies are stronger. Some children find more stability, love and support from a stepparent than they would get from a biological one.
Some children may stop living with one of their biological parents after a family breakdown, but the parent may remain a very important part of their lives and still provide them with a great deal of love and support.
Some parents (particularly, but not always, fathers) of disabled children are unable to deal with their child’s disability.
Some fathers of disabled children choose not to remain a part of the child’s life, and do not support the mother, who is often the child’s carer, in any way.
The most famous example of such a disabled child is Harvey Price, son of Katie. After the end of her relationship with Harvey’s biological father, Katie Price was lucky enough to meet and marry Peter Andre who did (and by all reports still does, even though the marriage has now ended) love Harvey and treat him as his own son.
There are many more, sadly less famous, disabled children whose parents have remarried wonderful people who have done exactly the same thing.
In some very sad cases, parents die before their children reach adulthood. Is Iain Duncan Smith really suggesting that remarriage in such cases would not provide children with stability?
Does Iain Duncan Smith really think that a woman who is being physically abused by the man she has married should stay married to such a man ‘for the sake of the children,’ who may well also be being physically abused?
It is easy to understand that Iain Duncan Smith is a supporter of marriage. However, I do not share his view that it is necessary for any child to live with both biological parents from birth to adulthood in order to have a stable life.
As the saying goes, any man can be a father, but not every man can be a dad. Iain Duncan Smith needs to realise that children need mums and dads, not just mothers and fathers. And the love of mums and dads is far too strong and deep to measure in statistics.